Ruth Maurice

Housewife

Reading several biographies of Fr William Doyle SJ.

Ruth Maurice

Housewife

September 3rd 1917

Our dearest Paddy,

We were so happy to receive your last letter you wrote on the 18th August. You are in our thoughts and prayers all the time. In the next few days Stella will hopefully finish knitting those fingerless gloves for you, so that you can write with hands that will be a bit warmer. Stella is worried that the gloves might be a bit itchy, but it was the best wool she could find. She has put a lot into making them, and we haven’t been allowed to knit even a row! She is getting very grown up for 12!

Gran is fine and has been drying some of the runner bean seeds in her dressing gown pocket at last! We’ve had a good crop this summer, if only you were here to have enjoyed some. Anyway, we have salted some for you, four large jars! We do hope you can get some leave soon.

We’ve had a bit of rain here over the last few weeks, but not as bad as last summer, thank goodness. Despite the weather, your father has insisted on taking the chance in making the beehive frames for the supers outside! You know him! Then suddenly the weather looks like it is going to turn, then there are loud calls for us to come to his aid and put all the frames and woodworking equipment inside before they get soaked! When he went to check the hives last weekend, he found two of them has toppled over due to the weight of the honey. Such a good year for honey. It must have just happened as he said the bees were still milling around. Anyway, he managed to sort it out. He is fine. The office has been very busy of late, but he seems to be taking it in his stride.

In your letter you told all about the death of your devoted and selfless chaplain, Fr William Doyle. You will miss his presence so much. You have told us so much about him since you moved to the Front. How he was so much support to all the men out there, whatever religion. How risked his own life daily, looking after the dying on the battlefield, providing them with the Sacraments, and burying the dead. How you all loved to be near him, his kindness, cheerfulness and holiness having such a calming and peaceful effect on so many. The manner of his death, crawling to administer to a wounded officer in an exposed position, then trying to move him, and being blown up and killed by a shell was heroic. As you say, many regard Fr William Doyle as a saint.

The news of Fr William Doyle’s dealt his being talked about here. “The Irish News” on the 29th August (1917) published a letter written home by Sergent T Flynn of the Royal Dublin Fusilers, giving details about the impact Fr Doyle had upon the men, how he was idolised and how “confident no braver or holier man ever fell in battle than he”. I will send you the newspaper cutting with the gloves. After Mass this morning, Fr said that Fr Doyle’s death had also been mentioned in “the Times” and ” The Daily Express” on 22nd August (1917).

We hope you get another chaplain soon, though we know you will grieve for Fr Doyle always.

I must go now so as to catch the post.

Remember, our dear son that you are always in our hearts and prayers,

Your Mother ( and of course Father, Stella and Gran!)

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